Monday, May 25, 2009

The Price Of Freedom

The price of freedom is dear.
Men and women, the very young and the not so young , kissing loved ones good-bye.
Leaving behind all they know for unknown battles in foreign lands.
Longing for a home that they may never see again.
Through sweat and tears, dodging bullets and their own fears.
Horrors endured, lives and limbs and pieces of soul lost.
Some returned heroes, but some felt shamed.
Many were disrespected and shunned for the sacrifices made.
And far too many were forgotten.
The price of freedom is dear.

I hold these men and women in highest esteem for all they have sacrificed for me, I am humbled and I am indebted to them.

And I want to mention those who are still living and fighting, and sometimes being wounded, and in danger of losing their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. God Bless these brave men and women of the United States of America.

Also on a day for honoring war heroes I want to honor just one of the heroes in our family (we have many military heroes in our family), I want to pay tribute to my father-in-law Harry. Dad came to America from Sweden while working on a ship as a cook. When the ship docked in New York, Harry jumped ship and never looked back! He loved America and he settled to life in New York. When World War II broke out he was drafted into the United States Army along with many of his friends who were also from Sweden, his friends opted to return to Sweden instead of fight for America, but Harry wanted to defend his new homeland. When he reported for duty he was asked if he was a legal citizen of the United States and Harry said no, he was not. He was told, “Well, you’re legal now!” and that is how Harry became a U.S. citizen. Dad said he loved Army life, he said they were well fed, they were well trained, they worked hard, they were never bored, and he felt honored to be serving ‘his’ country. Dad was in the second wave of troops on Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion. During one of the battles there a buddy of his was injured, he told Harry to just leave him there to die but Harry wouldn’t hear of it, he made a make-shift stretcher out of old boards he found and dragged his friend out of there.
Dad’s job was to sweep the fields for mines, one day while doing this his Lieutenant called out his name and when Harry turned to him he stepped on a mine. His leg was partially blown off below the knee, hanging on by only the muscle, the medic couldn’t bring himself to cut the rest of the muscle, but Harry knew what needed to be done, he took his own knife and cut off what was left of his leg himself.
Dad received the honor of being a recipient of the Purple Heart. It wasn’t a very honorable ceremony, as Dad was laying in bed recovering, an Officer came into the hospital with the Purple Hearts that some of the soldiers had earned and threw them on their beds. While Dad was recovering he was taught the art of making wallets, I guess that’s all they thought he was good for now, but Harry had other plans for himself. After he was discharged from the Army, Harry went back to his grueling construction work as a dock builder, he was a hard worker, he never let his disability disable him, he was promoted to foreman, and his fellow workers labeled him “Harry the Horse” because of his strength and vigor. Harry worked in this occupation for the next forty plus years, building a life for himself, his wife, and his five children. My father-in-law sacrificed a lot for his ‘adopted’ homeland and he always had only good things to say about America, he never uttered a complaint, he never expected a hand-out, and he was happy for the honor to serve.
Harry is my hero.
I always loved how both my mother-in-law Helena and my father-in-law Harry whole-heartedly embraced America and the American way of life when they came here from Sweden.
When Dad passed away the family had a picture displayed at his wake of him in his Army uniform and Ray said that his Dad was his ‘American’ hero. On this day especially, I can think of no higher honor.

These pictures were taken at Calverton National Cemetery where Ray’s Dad is buried along with his fellow American heroes. God Bless the men and women who sacrifice so dearly for us. God Bless America!
Ray edited out the last name from his Dad's gravestone as some of our kids are 'nutty' about protecting their privacy.


  1. So lovely, so lovingly written Eileen. How wonderful to remember your loved ones so have a gift there, Eileen and I'm sure Heaven is full of smiles today!!

    blessings and hugs,


  2. This post made me cry. It was so touching. Harry sounds like such a wonderful man and for sure an American hero. Thank you for sharing with all of us ♥

  3. Your father-in-law was a true hero Eileen. Just one of many that we all need to remember on this day. Thank you for your wonderful story of a truly wonderful man.